theatre of the absurd Many 20th-century writers of prose fiction have stressed the absurd nature of human existence: notable instances are the novels and stories of Franz Kafka, in which the characters face alarmingly incomprehensible predicaments. The critic Martin Esslin coined the phrase theatre of the absurd in 1961 to refer to a number of dramatists of the 1950s (led by Samuel Beckett and Eugene lonesco) whose works evoke the absurd by abandoning logical form, character, and dialogue together with realistic illusion. The classic work of absurdist theatre is Beckett's Waiting for Godot, 1952), which revives some of the conventions of clowning and farce to represent the impossibility of purposeful action and the paralysis of human aspiration. Other dramatists associated with the theatre of the absurd include Edward Albee, Jean Genet, Harold Pinter, and Vaclav Havel.